Then, I look up and see a guy with a learning and physical disability walking in front of me. Well, working on walking. He must have been in some sort of PT program or something because he was working with another person and I overheard the therapist just telling him over and over not to give up and keep working on it.
Obviously I don't know this man. I don't know what sort of disability he has or his story. I don't know his history. Shit, I don't even know his name. I've never met him. I don't KNOW him. Not even a little. But, I felt so incredibly connected to him in this moment.
I could see the man struggle with each step. I could see that just WALKING was a struggle and such an accomplishment for him. I could see that it hurt and was painful and awkward and that it was SO HARD for him just to take a couple steps. And, I could see that he was NOT going to give up. He kept walking. Small, uneasy steps. With a grimace and moan with each step. But, he didn't give up. He kept going. And I could see he was SO PROUD of himself. Even while in pain, I could see how hard he was working and that he knew he was working hard and that he was accomplishing something.
And here I was. Bitching in my head about how I HAD to run and how it sucked and how I sucked and how hard it was. Here was this amazing man working with everything he had just to take a single step, right in front of me. I was so in my head about how my legs were heavy and how out of shape I was and how slow I was that I've been forgetting just how amazing running is.
He inspired me. I don't know him and he might tell me to shut the F up and not to use him as inspiration, but I am. He reminded me to just stop and run. I stopped bitching. I stopped complaining. I just ran. He reminded me that I run because I can. There are SO many people who would do ANYTHING to run and here I was bitching about it. Stupid me. I run because I can. I GET to run. My legs have carried me through SO much and I give them such shit. This man reminded me to stop and just run. He reminded me that I run because I CAN.
And he reminded me to be proud of that. 1 mile or 11 miles. 9 minute mile or 14 minute mile. Just shut up and be proud of what I accomplished.
So, I ran. I ran because I can. I ran for him. I ran for me. I ran. 7 miles. Slow, imperfect miles. But, I ran and I thought of this man I will never know. And I loved every second.
Is it cheesy? Yep. Will I remember it every time I go to run? Nope. Will it make me start running 30 mile weeks? Not even a little. Does any of that make it any less true or any less profound? Not even a little.